Strong: "We're not the same program"

Charlie Strong told the 2010 Kick-Off Luncheon audience that the program he took over in December 2009 from Steve Kragthorpe, isn't the "same" one it is now.

Charlie Strong inherited a program that went 15-21 the last three seasons under Steve Kragthorpe. In nine short months on the job, Louisville's first-year head coach told the 2010 Kick-Off Luncheon attendees Tuesday that his program is making progress.

"We needed change and there has been drastic steps taken from January to this point now," Strong said. "When you think about where this program has come since January, I told our coaches just the other day, 'we're not the same program."

Strong credited his players for "doing everything we've asked them to do." One of the themes on the video presentation before Strong addressed the sell-out crowd read: "Winning your off-season means winning in season." If that's true, Louisville could have a surprising good season.

Strong said his players have made progress in the classroom since his arrival, with 39 players recording at least 3.0 GPA's last semester. Strong's players have also made progress off the field and in the weight room. He's hoping that progress translates to the field this season.

"We're taking the right steps," Strong said. "If they do it academically they'll do it on the football field."

Strong talked about his program's core values: Honesty, treating women with respect, no drugs, no stealing and no guns.

"If they break a core value they're telling me they don't want to be a part of this program," Strong said.

Strong also talked about C.A.R.D.S, a metaphor for his expectations for his players: Commitment. Attitude. Respect. Discipline. Sacrifice.

"We needed something to grab these guys attention because they've been told they can't do it and have struggled for three years," Strong said.

With lunch over, Strong's team will return to the practice field where they'll wrap up two a days on Thursday.

"We all have high expectations," Strong said. "I feel like we're heading in the right direction because they players are tired of the embarrassment and they want to win. Looking at the way we're working it's happening on the football field. I don't know if they've ever worked this hard but the only way to win is to work hard in practice."

Strong, who said his staff will make a decision on the quarterback position "in a few days," sounded pleased with how hard his team has been working in practice.

"Practice has been going well, but we're not good enough to lose any days," Strong said. "We have to continue to get better."

Now almost two weeks into fall camp, the countdown is clearly on for the season-opener Sept. 4 vs. Kentucky – a team the Cardinals haven't beaten the last three years.

"18 days, two and half hours," Strong said. "We really need to come together as a football team and we have to find an identity of who we really are.

"I can't make any promises and say how many games we're going to win but we will be an exciting football team and we will play hard. And I think we can surprise some people because we're headed in the right direction and we want to win."

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